Software implementation failure? Get out of “out-of-the-box”


Failure. It’s a loaded word that evokes some very unpleasant emotions, for me at least. In fact, it’s probably up there with my top fears, among public speaking, plane crashes and snake bites; I wouldn’t be surprised if this rang true for others as well. It simply happens. In fact, most business gurus or resources, like this Business Insider article, would tell you that failing is a fundamental part of the learning process and key to continuously improving. But an implementation failure, especially at work, still is painful to endure, right?

At TrackVia, we engage with companies that find this to be very true. In fact, we often speak with folks who are living with the pain of a failed system or software that they had brought into their organization thinking it would provide them with better visibility into and control over their operations but found that it didn’t live up to this promise. The good news is that when people come to us with the pain stemming from a system implementation failure, we have found a common cure: we tell them that it’s time to, “get out of out-of-the-box.”

What the heck do we mean by this? It’s not a typo, but let me explain: Most out-of-the-box software and systems were built to support a very particular need, process or type of operation. Sometimes companies find that the plethora of out-of-the-box options in the market work just fine to solve their needs. But what happens when your company’s needs, processes, data, or operations vary or differ too much from what those out-of-the-box solutions can support? Or when your operations and all of its associated components are constantly in flux? We’ve found that the answers to these questions are often indicative of when an implementation failure occurs for our clients. When you simply have needs that are too unique or require more flexibility than a rigid set of features and capabilities can solve, you may want to consider getting out of out-of-the-box.

Since we’ve worked with many clients over the years that have experienced the need to get out of out-of-the-box, we’ve compiled a list of common ways to know that your needs exceed that of what an out-of-the-box solution can provide:

Your out-of-the-box software implementation fails…

If you’ve read this blog up until this point, you know that this is a major symptom of needing to get out of out-the-box. Remember that out-of-the-box software in this case is defined as a software or system that was built to address a specific problem, need, or workflow. You may find that even custom-developed IT solutions may ultimately fail if there’s a mismatch in core functionality and the type of operations it must support.

Your employees say it limits their ability to perform work

Change management is listed among the top reasons that most organizational initiatives fail. To be fair: humans are not the fondest group in general of change. Due to this reality, you will need to learn to decipher if people resist adopting a new software because it is something new that may have an associated learning curve, or whether the resistance is stemming from something more legitimate. For example, if you hear employee concerns stemming from a hesitancy of learning how to use a new system, you may just need to look to additional user training as a solution. That said, listen to employees—especially those critical to or highly involved in your processes or operations—who are resistant to a system, because it does not meet their daily work needs or does not fit well into their work reality. Pay special attention to employees who provide concrete examples of why a new system legitimately limits the way they can accomplish their work or causes disruptions in their operations. If this is the case, it is an indication that you may need to get out of out-of-the-box.

Your system lacks capabilities, not features

There’s a difference between a system that could possess certain features that would really improve your organization’s experience, and a system lacking core functionality. Missing capabilities are broader deficiencies; these are the core ways a system is able to address the problem it was built to solve. For example, if you are looking to workflow management software to help you get in front of issues more quickly, text alerts might be a feature you consider, but the core capability your needs demand is the ability to automatically take intelligent action(s) based on certain outcomes, thresholds, events, or inputs. If you find a system that can send text alerts, but cannot harness them to help solve your need to address problems as they arise, you have a capability-related problem. Often times, at the base of most system failures are a mismatch in the true capabilities of a system and the capabilities your organization needs to support its operations. If you find yourself having a capability-related issue, this is yet another clue that it might be time to get out of out-of-the-box.

You find yourself fundamentally changing your processes to accommodate a tool, not the other way around

When you buy a pen at a store, you should be able to write with it; but if you need to write while underwater, you might need a special kind of pen. The principle holds true with out-of-the-box software; if you are a diver, you likely may need a more custom way of taking notes on the creatures you might encounter than folks doing the same thing above water. If you buy software, it should fit your basic operations without an overwhelming amount of change to your current processes or operations. Using my above example, if you need to record underwater activity, you shouldn’t need to come back up to your boat to take notes before re-submerging; in this case you’d be changing your process to accommodate a tool and likely missing out on some aquatic activity as a result. Similarly, when you find yourself cutting corners or making undesired, impactful changes to your processes or operations to accommodate a system, it might be time to look for a solution that is more fluid and flexible. This is yet another reason for you to get out of out-of-the-box.

Avoid another implementation failure

So what should you do when these scenarios sound all too familiar, or you are dealing with the pain of a system implementation failure? Get out of out-of-the-box! Also, look to flexible workflow solutions, like TrackVia, that can be fully customized (often without the need of programming) to fit your unique operations and workflows. Or you can also read this case study to see how DIRECTV got out of out-of-the-box and what they’ve been able to achieve with a fully configurable workflow management software. (Hint: They’ve saved a lot of time, money and frustration!)


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